Review of Starship: Mercenary by Mike Resnick

SFFaudio Review

Audible Frontiers - Starship: Mercenary, Book 3 by Mike ResickStarship: Mercenary, Book 3
By Mike Resnick; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 8 Hours 37 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: April 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Aliens / Crime / Military SF / Space Station /

Seeking to find a new life, Wilson Cole first remade the Teddy R. as a pirate ship plying the spaceways of the lawless Inner Frontier. But military discipline and honor were a poor match for a life of pillaging and plundering, and Cole’s principles naturally limited his targets. Seeking a better way of life, the Teddy R. becomes a mercenary ship, hiring out to the highest bidder. Whether it’s evacuating a hospital before war can reach it, freeing a client from an alien prison, or stopping a criminal cartel from extorting money from a terrified planet, the crew of the Teddy R. proves equal to the task. Along the way they form a partnership with the once human Platinum Duke, team up with a former enemy, and make the unique Singapore Station their headquarters. But the life of a mercenary is not always predictable, and eventually circumstance pits Cole and the Teddy R. against his right-hand woman, the former Pirate Queen known as the Valkyrie. Soon the fragile trust that has grown between these two legends is put to the test as they find themselves on opposite sides of a job.

I’m gobbling up this terrific series like a yummy gummy candy. I can’t recommend it highly enough for space opera fans looking for a less restrictive and less incestuous version of the venerable Star Wars universe. Resnick uses all the tropes of space opera without creating any real new ones. This makes this a series without a lot of deep thoughts. But, that doesn’t mean its a series without value. The characters and scenarios are as compelling as hell, and with each book in the series Resnick has added at least one fascinating new crew member to join the vagabond gang of mutineers. Val (Valkyrie), a brash pirate whose mighty physical prowess is only matched by her joined the show in book two, as did David Copperfield, an alien who insists he’s the Dickens character (and that Captain Wilson Cole is his schoolboy chum “Steerforth”). In book three, this book, the two and a half characters from the first book: chief of security Sharon Blacksmith, alien engineer “Slick” (and his symbiotic “gorib” skin) get short shrift in order to make room for the added notable book 3 characters: a canny cyborg space station owner named the “Platinum Duke,” and an honorable enemy alien starship captain, once Wilson’s greatest enemies.

The prior to books in this series should probably be read first (and they are also available via Audible Frontiers). They set up the story line of the wandering Navy hero who got himself exiled. Now, as mutineers with a bounty on all their heads, and with their stolen powerful (but elderly) naval warship they try to make a living however they can (without actually breaking their captain’s moral code). Piracy and mercenary work with a moral code? Hard to do, but Cole and company pull it off – at least most of the time.

Like the first two books in this Audible exclusive audiobook series, Starship: Mercenary begins with an informative introduction by Resnick himself (this continues with the recently released Book 4). Narrator Jonathan Davis has narrated more than 30 Star Wars audiobooks. This is just his third book in this series, but he has given each of the dozen or so characters their own unique voices, keeping track of how he did the old ones and adding a few more distinctive new ones for this terrific adventure. As with the previous novels, much of the story is told through the words of the characters. Resnick makes every word count, and Davis does the same. There’s not one word of filler from either artist. The plot and descriptions are almost completely delivered via dialogue – one doesn’t even notice that the visual descriptions of nearly everything is virtually absent – it just doesn’t seem to matter when you’re making those images appear in your mind.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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